The very day I found out I was pregnant with Kinsley, I remember sitting down with Max (my dog) and explaining to him how he was going to be a big brother. Silly, right? But, through my excitement of being pregnant (along with my nervousness), I was worried that Max wasn’t going to be good at sharing the spotlight. He had been my only baby for 7 years; 7 years of sucking up all my attention and love and now I had 9 months to figure out how I was going to break the reality of this “big brother” situation to him.
As usual, Max was one of my biggest comforts during all the ups and downs of my pregnancy. I found so much joy in snuggling with him on the couch when I was sick and him simply resting his head on my growing belly. I quickly began thinking about my plan of introducing Max to the baby in the “right” way.
Max is a rescue pitbull mix. He is really the sweetest thing, but also has some major anxiety around kids. That’s a pretty good reason for me to be worrisome, right? Well, I started reaching out to friends, family members, doctors, nurses, and even our vet. Some of the advice included:
Before baby’s arrival:
- Bring home a hat or blanket the baby used right after birth for the dog to smell and explore
- Set up any toys/rockers/bassinets and play the music or vibrations of them randomly
- Play baby sounds (including crying) on your phone and place the phone in areas in which the baby will be spending time
After baby’s arrival:
- When entering the house with the baby for the first time, enter normally and greet your dog the same way you would typically greet him/her and don’t make a big deal about the baby
- Keeping the baby in the car seat, allow the dog to sniff and gently explore the baby
- Take special time out of your dog to spend with just your dog
- Allow the dog to be where you are with the baby to feel included
- Set boundaries for the baby AND the dog (EX: dog toys are not for the baby and baby toys are not for the dog)
- Teach your baby/toddler to respect your dog’s space (especially when eating and sleeping) while teaching your dog to respect the baby’s space
There are even some great books and dog trainers that can help you out if you feel as though you could benefit from that. We have been extremely lucky following the above strategies since Max absolutely adores Kinsley and that love seems so mutual between the two. They respect each other’s space, but still give kisses and want to be near each other at all times of the day. It makes every part of my momma-heart happy!